This study reports on an investigation into Japanese learners' pragmatic perceptions and difficulties in performing speech acts. Survey results suggest some universality in the use of polite expressions in learners' first and second languages. It also found that the learners were aware of culture-specificity in the high frequency, variety, and functions of pragmatic formulas and hedging expressions in Japanese. Consequently, there were some difficulties in the comprehension and production of pragmatic speech acts for learners due to these inter-lingual differences. These results support the notion that pragmatic competence should be covered in Japanese classes.